Madonna strips for Malala Yousafzai

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY,  |  Oct. 15, 2012 at 1:59 PM
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The October 9 attack on 14-year-old Pakistani activist--shot in the head and neck on the school bus for her outspoken advocacy for girls' education--was a genuinely horrifying incident.

A Taliban spokesman readily claimed responsibility for the attack, and the assassination attempt was immediately met by worldwide outrage.

Most of the outpouring of anger took the form of protests, furiously written op-eds, and even a public denunciation of the gunmen by a group of 50 Pakistani Islamic clerics.

But pop star Madonna, never one to shy from weighing in on the issue of the day, expressed her disgust in a way only Madonna can.

In the midst of a performance of her song "Human Nature" song at the Staples Center the day of the attack, the outspoken singer took a pause from stripping down into her bra and a thong to give the crowd her thoughts.

Stenciled on her back, the world "Malala" was spelled out in black ink.

"It's a lot easier to show your ass than it is to show your feelings, at least in this town" she said, with her back to the audience (although with her pants re-zipped.

In Pakistan, a 14-year-old girl was shot in the neck for writing a blog about the importance of being educated as a female. She was shot on her school bus because she wrote a blog about how passionate she was about going to school. She's in a hospital right now. Let's all pray she's going to make it. Her name is Malala, and this is for all girls around the world who deserve to have a voice.

With her shirt still off, Madonna went into a slow and acoustic version of "Like a Virgin," rolling on the floor of the stage and laying on top of the upright black piano on stage.

(This video contains some mild nudity.)

While the crowd seemed to enjoy the performance, others were uncomfortable with the conjunction of the songs she sang on either side of her speech, her state of undress and her sexualized movements with the topic of a young girl in a country where women are held to the highest standards of modesty.

"Human Nature" includes lyrics such as "You wouldn't let me say the words I longed to say/ You didn't want to see life through my eyes/ (Express yourself, don't repress yourself)/ You tried to shove me back inside your narrow room/ And silence me with bitterness and lies," which fit nicely with a positive message in support of Malala.

Although "Human Nature" is explicitly about sex, and may be offensive to some Muslims, it reinforces a positive image of feminine independence. "Like a Virgin" may not be so redeemable.

And from YouTube commenter, Thanhmelbourne:

This was really inappropriate not just because linking a bullet to the head with a commercial concert but a strip tease to a 14y girl. Madonna is an amazing performer and entertainer and a huge success she didnt have to disrespect Malala for her own PR. But it has done the trick i didnt have any interest in her MDNA concert (i am a fan by the way) till this come out and i had to see it for myself.

Others were pleased the singer used her fame as a platform to raise attention.

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